**************** DZL MEDIA (TM) - Personal Development Videos, Articles, and Blogs ****************

Friday, September 11, 2009

How to Manage Your Time as a Freelance Copywriter

by Laurence James

Copywriting Articles August 28, 2007

Time management is crucial to your future as a copywriter, let's look at some ways to get organised...

One of the great misconceptions about freelance copywriting is that you can write when you want to. ‘What a great job you've got', people say, ‘you can work when and where you like and choose your own hours'. This sounds fine in principle, if it weren't for that dreaded word that rules the lives of all freelance copywriters – ‘deadlines'. I haven't missed a deadline in ten years of commercial writing, but you need to stay on top of things to do this.

As a first rule of thumb, if you can't organise yourself to meet your client's deadline, then you will struggle to make a name for yourself as a copywriter. As with other service-based careers, you're only as good as your last piece of work – and busy, stressed out clients won't wait around for you to get a handle on how to manage your time. With that in mind, here are five tips to help you better organise yourself.

1. Write a weekly timetable

Every Friday afternoon, it's a good idea to draw up a timetable of quotes to send, briefs to take and projects to write for the next week. These will be based on deadlines and arrangements you've agreed with clients, and should include an extra day of ‘cushion time' before the deadline date in case you encounter any problems.

Number each job by priority and have an equivalently numbered job bag for each set of notes and materials – so you can find everything you need and crack straight on when the time comes. You can create and print out pro-forma timetables in Word. Finally, stick it up on the wall where you can see it.

2. Write a monthly jobs board

Buy a budget dry wipe board from any office supplies retailer, and make columns for: current clients, jobs and deadlines, quotes sent to clients, invoices outstanding, and invoices to send.

You can use your numbering system to identify each job bag again, and this will help you manage client projects that go beyond your weekly timetable. It also helps to put this on the wall to quantify at a glance, the amount of work you have to do. (A year planner with daily dates is another good pin up).

3. Manage client expectations

A very experienced graphic designer once gave me a very good piece of advice. He said, ‘No client will ever mind if you're too busy to do their job, they will always come back to you because the amount of work you're getting suggests you know what you're doing. However, if you agree a deadline that is too tight – just to appease the client – you will not do a good job and they will never come back to you".

This is a great piece of advice. If you honestly say to the client, ‘I've got several other projects on at the moment and will need at least three weeks to do your project justice' – they will usually agree to this, because they want you to do a great job. Always manage their expectations of what you can deliver when, and don't compromise quality in order to rush a job.

4. Set aside a fixed time every week for administrative tasks

I do all my invoicing, phone calls, quotes and admin stuff at certain fixed times of the day. I never mix these tasks with copywriting time, as this leads to bad copy and confused administration. Separate different tasks, put everything in its place and keep it there – then you will work more efficiently.

5. Communicate with your clients

Don't agree a deadline two weeks in advance and then disappear off the client's radar. It's good to keep them updated with your progress to make them feel confident you're doing a good job.

It takes five minutes to send a ‘catch up' email saying ‘I'm making great progress with your project and am on target for delivery at the agreed time'. Your clients will appreciate this and it will inspire confidence in your standards of service. It also buys you time with nervous clients, as they aren't compelled to constantly contact you for progress reports.

As a freelance copywriter, it's essential to manage your time properly – for both your clients' and your own sake. If you make a bad job of your organisation, you'll probably make a bad job of your copy too.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


An English graduate from the University of Birmingham and professionally trained journalist at postgraduate level, Laurence James has been copywriting for over ten years. A Member of The Institute of Direct Marketing, he is also founder of The Copy Box.

How to Do Nothing


How to Do Nothing


from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

For those of us who are non-stop workaholics, doing nothing can actually be pretty difficult! If you're like the Energizer bunny in that you keep going, and going, and going, here's how to stop once in a while, think pleasant thoughts, visit the beach, stare at the water, and just do nothing.

Steps


  1. Plan ahead. Whether it's an hour, a day, a week, a month, or year of doing nothing, cancel all of your appointments for that block of time. Try to pick the most boring week or day, a day where you'll most likely sleep most of the time.
  2. Let people know. Tell everyone that you're going to be "busy" and will be unavailable. Whether you choose to tell them that you're actually setting aside some time to 'do nothing', or you just give them the vague explanation "I'm going to be busy" (busy doing nothing!), tell them not to call, visit, or interrupt unless it's a real emergency.
  3. Find a quiet, private place. Go somewhere you don't feel pressured to do anything. This might be your bedroom, the backyard, or a local park. Find that place and go there.
  4. Set your alarm. Set an alarm of some kind to go off when your "nothing" time is over, so that you don't have to constantly look at the clock and count the minutes.
  5. Turn off the phone. Turn off your cell phone, work phone, PDA, Blackberry, computer, radio, television, iPhone and any other means of sending or receiving calls or messages. These distractions will only keep you from enjoying the nothing.
  6. Sit by yourself. Feel the wind, the sun on your face, the chair touching your bottom. Listen to the rustle of the trees, birds chirping, water flowing. Never think about the past or future. Avoid the temptation to turn on the TV, listen to music, write a note to yourself, get a bite to eat, or anything else. The only thing you should do is go to the bathroom (if needed).
  7. Learn how to free your mind. Clear your mind of all thoughts of work, worries, family, etc. by simply letting them go. Doing this not only allows your body to do nothing, but your mind as well. However, do not be worried if you find yourself thinking of things. Freeing up one's mind is actually very difficult to master, and often requires more discipline than some free time (Buddhist monks, for example, dedicate their entire lives to freeing their minds).
  8. And that is all. You can enjoy doing nothing for as long as you would like now.


Tips


  • Setting aside some free time to do nothing on a regular basis is very healthy for your mind, body, and emotional life, especially if you find that you're really wearing yourself thin. Often times, we are encouraged by the actions of our fast-paced, high-information society to believe that staying busy is a normal and natural state of existence. Remember, there is no guilt in giving yourself some private downtime. How often you do nothing is up to you, but it should be a rejuvenating experience.
  • Once you become good at doing nothing, you can use this new found time and energy to think of things, instead. This would not be doing "nothing," but thinking while shutting out the world. Focusing on one thing this way will help you to concentrate better than having your mind zoom over a million thoughts a minute.
  • If you live in a small apartment, set aside a corner of a larger room with floor pillows, a softly scented candle and maybe a cozy throw. If these things aren't available, just find a quiet place for yourself.
  • Another thing that helps is to 'relax' your facial muscles, letting your shoulders relax then moving on to the rest of the body.
  • Try to temporarily forget about that work you have to get done, that test you need to study for, or that place you need to be, and just relax. Eventually, you will learn to plan what you will think about and not think about while doing nothing.
  • If you have an intimate companion, try doing nothing together.
  • If your parent asks what you're doing, and doesn't believe you are doing nothing, say you're daydreaming.


Warnings


  • At first you may feel nervous, sad, and restless. Try to relax and understand that doing nothing does not mean that you're being unproductive or irresponsible. Keep in mind that you are doing this in order to clear your mind and ultimately extend your life so that you will have even more time. Ultimately, setting time aside to recharge your batteries will make you more productive, creative, and more able to concentrate in the long run, and that's very good for work, school, or other areas of your life.
  • If you are exhausted while you try to do nothing, you may end up falling asleep. If this happens, consider adding more sleep to your daily routine.
  • Remember not to do this for too long... eventually, you've got to do something!


Related wikiHows





Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Do Nothing. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

How to Manage Your Time


How to Manage Your Time


from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Have a lot to accomplish? Learn to focus on what is most important. Here's a quick, efficient and organized technique for completing tasks:

Steps


  1. Make a random list of tasks.
  2. Assign realistic priorities to each task.
    • Priority 1: due today or tomorrow
    • Priority 2: due in one week
    • Priority 3: due in one month
    • Priority 4: due next year

  3. Balance your effort. Work on small portions every day.
    • Do the daily tasks. Concentrate on what is at hand, then move on to the next daily task. Once daily tasks are completed, proceed to the next step, if desired.
    • Do the weekly tasks. Once weekly tasks are completed, proceed to the next step, if desired.
    • Do the monthly tasks. Once monthly tasks are completed, proceed to the next step, if desired.
    • Do the yearly tasks.
    • Small portions of the future tasks will have been done ahead of time.

  4. Decide upon the time of day. Some people are more productive in the morning than the evening.
  5. Manage time in increments. Play a game with yourself by competing against time.
    • Work in fifteen minute, half hour or hour intervals.
    • Give yourself a time limit to complete a portion of a task or the entire task.

  6. Take a break. Clear your mind and refresh yourself to refocus.
    • Decide beforehand on a 5, 10 or 15 minute break and stick to that decision.
    • During your break, reasses to develop a new perspective.
    • Breaks provide incentive by giving you something to look forward to.

  7. Keep track of your progress.
    • Cross things off the list as they are completed.
    • You'll feel more relieved and relaxed just by getting through the daily tasks.
    • This will give you a sense of accomplishment and spur motivation.

  8. Reassess the list.
    • Rewrite and reprioritize your list as needed.
    • Add new tasks to the list.
    • Eliminate certain tasks.
    • Delegate tasks to others.
    • Use technology to complete tasks more quickly, efficiently or accurately.



Supplies


  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Laptop
  • PDA
  • hi-lighter


Tips


  • Allow for random things to be done between tasks.
  • Pick subjects and not verbs. List ideas and allot time per subject.
  • Keep track of your productive time with a chess clock. Set up a more realistic schedule once you understand the actual time it takes to complete a task. Just knowing that a certain task will take no more than a half hour will motivate you to complete it.
  • Set aside the concept of "everything has to be done yesterday" in order to create realistic priorities.
  • Don't "spread yourself too thin" by overwhelming your day with an unrealistic schedule that would be difficult to accomplish.


Warnings


  • Be flexible and relax. Allow for the unexpected in life. Other things may take precedence over a rigid and methodical routine. With most unusual circumstances, it may take no more than an hour or a few days to return to your usual schedule.


Related wikiHows




Sources and Citations





Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Manage Your Time. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

How to Write a Poem


How to Write a Poem


from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Writing a poem is all about observing the world within you or around you. You can write about anything from love to the rusty gate at the old farm. As long as you are enjoying it or finding it releases something from inside you, you're on the right track.

Steps


  1. Read and listen to poetry. Whether someone who has never seen a sonnet nor heard haiku can truly be a poet is an open question. It is almost certain, though, that any poet who has been published or who has garnered any following enhanced their skills by reading or listening to good poetry, even if they later scoffed at conventional notions of what was "good." "Good" poems fall into three categories: those that are recognized as classics, those that seem to be popular, and those that you personally like. Poems typically being short, there is no reason not to explore plenty of both.
  2. Find a spark. A poem may be born as a snippet of verse, maybe just a line or two that seems to come out of nowhere. That's what's usually called inspiration, and once you have that beginning you simply need to flesh it out, to build the rest of the poem around it.At other times you may want to write about a specific thing or idea. If this is the case, do a little planning. Write down all the words and phrases that come to mind when you think of that idea. Allow yourself to put all your ideas into words.It may sound difficult, but do not be afraid to voice your exact feelings. Emotions are what make poems, and if you lie about your emotions it can be easily sensed in the poem. Write them down as quickly as possible, and when you're done, go through the list and look for connections or certain items that get your creative juices flowing.
  3. Think about what you want to achieve with your poem. Perhaps you want to write a poem to express your love for your boyfriend or girlfriend; perhaps you want to commemorate a tragic event; or maybe you just want to get an "A" in your poetry class. Think about why you are writing your poem and who your intended audience is, and then proceed in your writing accordingly.
  4. Decide what poetry style suits your subject. There are a great many different poetic styles. [1]. If you see "Winter icicles / plummeting like Enron stock..." perhaps you've got a haiku in your head. As a poet, you have a wide variety of set forms to choose from: limericks, sonnets, villanelles ... the list goes on and on. You may also choose to abandon form altogether and write your poem in free verse. While the choice may not always be as obvious as the example above, the best form for the poem will usually manifest itself during your writing.
  5. Try to fit into a particular scene you want to write about. For example, if you want to write about nature, try to visit a park or a small forest nearby. The natural scenery will make you write a few lines, though they may not be perfect.
  6. Listen to your poem. While many people today have been exposed to poetry only in written form, poetry was predominantly an aural art for thousands of years, and the sound of a poem is still important. As you write and edit your poem, read it aloud and listen to how it sounds.
    1. This is where poems can become songs. It is easier to find a tune for regular meter, so maybe you want to cut words out or put some in to get the same number of syllables in each line. Memorize it. If you believe it, then maybe someone else will learn it and love it before it is a song.

  7. Write down your thoughts as they come to you. Don't edit as you write, or do edit as you write - the choice is yours. However, you should try both methods at least a couple times to see what works best for you.
  8. Choose the right words. It's been said that if a novel is "words in the best order," then a poem is "the best words in the best order." Think of the words you use as building blocks of different sizes and shapes. Some words will fit together perfectly, and some won't. You want to keep working at your poem until you have built a strong structure of words. Use only those words that are necessary, those that enhance the meaning of the poem. Choose your words carefully. The differences between similar sounding words or synonyms can lead to interesting word play.
  9. Use concrete imagery and vivid descriptions.
    • Love, hate, happiness: these are all abstract concepts. Many, maybe all, poems are, deep down, about emotions and other abstractions, but it's hard to build a strong poem using only abstractions - it's just not interesting. The key, then, is to replace or enhance abstractions with concrete images, things that you can appreciate with your senses: a rose, a shark, or a crackling fire, for example. The concept of the objective correlative may be useful. An objective correlative is an object, several objects, or a series of events (all concrete things) that evoke the emotion or idea of the poem.
    • Really powerful poetry not only uses concrete images; it also describes them vividly. Show your readers and listeners what you're talking about--help them to experience the imagery of the poem. Put in some "sensory" handles. These are words that describe the things that you hear, see, taste, touch, and smell, so that the reader can identify with their own experience. Give some examples rather than purely mental/intellectual descriptions. For example: "He made a loud sound" versus "He made a loud sound like a hippo eating 100 stale pecan pies with metal teeth".

  10. Use poetic devices to enhance your poem's beauty and meaning. The most well known poetic device is rhyme. Rhyme can add suspense to your lines, enhance your meaning, or make the poem more cohesive. It can also make it prettier. Don't overuse rhyme. It's a crime. In fact you don't have to use rhyme at all. Other poetic devices include meter, metaphor, assonance, alliteration, and repetition. If you don't know what these are, you may want to look in a poetry book or search the internet. Poetic devices can make a poem or, if they bring too much attention to themselves, they can ruin it.
  11. Save your most powerful message or insight for the end of your poem. The last line is to a poem what a punch line is to a joke--something that evokes an emotional response. Give the reader something to think about, something to dwell on after reading your poem. Resist the urge to explain it; let the reader become engaged with the poem in developing an understanding of your experience or message.
  12. Edit your poem. When the basic poem is written, set it aside for awhile and then read the poem out loud to yourself. Go through it and balance the choice of words with the rhythm. Take out unnecessary words and replace imagery that isn't working. Some people edit a poem all at once, while others come back to it again and again over time. Don't be afraid to rewrite if some part of the poem is not working. Sometimes you just can't fix something that essentially doesn't work.
  13. Get opinions. It can be hard to critique your own work, so after you've done an initial edit, try to get some friends or a poetry group (there are plenty online) to look at your poem for you. You may not like all their suggestions, and you don't have to take any of them, but you might find some insight that will make your poem better. Feedback is good. Pass your poem around, and ask your friends to critique your work. Tell them to be honest, even if it's painful. Filter their responses or ignore them altogether and edit as you see fit.


Video



Tips


  • Do you find that you never feel inspired when you sit down to write a poem? It's a common problem, and you can solve it by carrying a notebook with you everywhere in which you can jot down poem ideas as they come to you. Then, when you're ready to write, just get out the notebook and find an idea that catches your fancy.
  • You might want to listen to soothing music or look at pictures to calm and inspire you.
  • Don't forget that surprise makes art (writing) extra special. If you're going to drag out the tired old rose metaphor in a love poem, put your own twist on it.
  • Don't give up. You'll probably find that your poems become better and easier to write as you write more of them.
  • Poems can make a great gift.
  • Keep all of your poetry in a book whether you like it or not. In the future, you might be able to salvage some of the throwaways or publish your best work.
  • When writing poetry, try to plan it out, use all the senses and base it on one or two main ideas.
  • Avoid cliches or overused images. "The world is your oyster," is neither a brilliant nor an original observation.
  • If you are writing a poem to be sent to a newspaper or a family-friendly magazine, choose your words and topic with care. You don't want the paper to censor your original work or reject it because of profanity.
  • Try to think of words that rhyme before you put them down on paper. This saves you from erasing over, and over again.


Warnings


  • Avoid sharing your work with people who do not appreciate poetry. This is a mistake that can discourage you from being a poet. It is often difficult to explain that you are just trying your hand at something new. The best thing to do is ask someone you know who will support you (who also happens to appreciate the art of the written word) to kindly critique you.
  • To guard against plagiarism, do what you can to reinforce your copyrights to your work. One way to do this is to make a copy of your work, seal it into an envelope, place a stamp on it, and mail it back to yourself. When you receive it in the mail, don't open it. The un-opened envelope can provide additional evidence that you are the copyright holder should it ever be in question, although it is not guaranteed to prove it in court.
  • If you have too much imagery, it can actually hurt your poem. "Explosively radiating sunshine slammed through my window" is just over the top.
  • If you want others to read your poetry, ask yourself "If somebody else showed me this, would I like it?" If the answer is "no," edit the poem some more.
  • If you're simply brimming with ideas and inspiration, don't try to fit it all into one poem. You'll have the chance to write more in the future.


Things You'll Need


  • Paper
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Time
  • Great idea(s)


Related wikiHows




Sources and Citations



  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Poetic_form



Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Write a Poem. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.